Los Angeles Preview

Flavia is back, but so too are five of the Top 10, including defending champion Dinara Safina.

Published August 02, 2009 09:23

Los Angeles Preview
Flavia Pennetta

LOS ANGELES, CA, USA - Five of the Top 10, including world No.1 Dinara Safina and the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's two fastest-rising young stars headline the $700,000 LA Women's Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife - the second staging post in the Olympus US Open Series - this week.

The 56-player draw affords first-round byes to the Top 8 seeds, of which Safina is naturally No.1. The 23-year-old Russian arrives straight from Portoroz in Slovenia where she won her third title of the year with a marathon three-hour victory over Sara Errani, and as the defending champion in Los Angeles, this is where her summer defense of the top ranking gets serious.

Another Russian, Vera Zvonareva, is the No.2 seed but under something of an injury cloud. Having seen her European clay court season wiped out by an ankle injury, the 24-year-old fell to Mariya Koryttseva in the first round at stanbul last week and sorely needs match practise. She has a good record on Californian hardcourts though, having captured Indian Wells earlier in the year.

Miami champion Victoria Azarenka turned 20 last week and is seeded third on a ranking of No.8. The young Belarusian with a base in Scottsdale, Arizona has won three hardcourt titles this year, two of them in the US, and might just be ready to launch a first serious assault on a Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows in a month or so. Azarenka's youthful peer, ninth-ranked 19-year-old Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, is the No.4 seed and looking for her sixth title in barely a year.

World No.10 Nadia Petrova of Russia is the No.5 seed, followed by the player who beat her for the Los Angeles title in 2007, former world No.1 Ana Ivanovic at No.6; recent French Open semifinalist Dominika Cibulkova is seeded No.7; and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska is No.8.

Seeds in the second tier include France's Marion Bartoli at No.9, fresh from her superb title run at Stanford, and Italy's Flavia Pennetta, who was runner-up to Safina here last year and lifted the trophy at Palermo a fortnight ago, at No.10.

The supporting cast in Tinseltown is full of stars too, not least of them Maria Sharapova, who spends some of her time at Manhattan Beach and continued her comeback from injury with a strong quarterfinal showing at Stanford last week. The line-up also includes 2005 runner-up Daniela Hantuchova, who faces a tough opener against German Wimbledon quarterfinalist and Charleston champion Sabine Lisicki; and popular American Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Wildcards have been awarded to Americans Vania King and Coco Vandeweghe and to Portuguese teen Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Australian duo Samantha Stosur and Rennae Stubbs are the top seeds in the doubles.

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